Monday, 4 February 2013

When the Nizam of Hyderabad sent his Ayurveda Safari Dawakhana to Kumbhmela in 1942


Biotechnology Ignition Grant: Researchers at University of Hyderabad take up project on type-2 diabetes, multidrug resistant diseases

University of Hyderabad scientists bag BIG awards

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), an interface agency of the Department of Biotechnology, has recently introduced a program to enable early stage companies, academics and entrepreneurs to take their innovations from an idea to a proof-of-concept stage in the healthcare/biotechnology sector.

Two of the recipients of the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) are Dr. Ashwini Nangia of Crystalin Research and Dr. Radha Rangarajan of Vitas Pharma. Both innovators are based at the Technology Business Incubator on University of Hyderabad campus. They are also incubatees at Life Science Incubator in IKP Knowledge Park, which provides mentorship, networking, branding, funding support, and laboratory infrastructure to start ups. IKP is the BIG Partner for both new projects.

Dr. Ashwini Nangia of Crystalin Research will test novel drug molecules designed on the GPCR receptor (G-protein coupled receptor) for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. The novelty of their approach lies in its simplicity. By modifying the functional group on an anti-psychotic drug it is expected that the change in binding to the receptor will lead to release of insulin.

The project will span the synthesis of drug molecules, their cell culture assays, and pre clinical animal trials to test the glucose level lowering efficacy of our “first in class drug”, says Dr. Nangia. He is a Professor of Chemistry at University of Hyderabad.

Dr. Radha Rangarajan is focused on identifying and developing novel therapies for multidrug resistant (MDR) infections at Vitas Pharma. MDR infections are a major public health concern in India and elsewhere, as they are associated with high levels of morbidity, mortality and treatment costs. The BIG Grant is intended for research on a novel class of compounds that target DNA replication in bacteria and prevent their growth through a unique mechanism, thus overcoming drug resistance.

The team will identify lead compounds with in vitro activity against highly resistant clinical strains and establish proof-of-concept in animal models. A successful drug emerging from this research would add to the armament of medicines for the effective management of infectious diseases.

Dr. Rangarajan has extensive research and development experience (Rockefeller University, Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories). She is on the Guest Faculty at NIPER, Hyderabad.

Rs 15,000 crore loss per year in fish and marine industry due to lack of post-harvest waste prevention methods


Post-harvest wastage causing annual losses worth over Rs 15K crore to marine & fish industry: ASSOCHAM
By Syed Akbar

The post harvest fish wastage leads to annual losses worth over Rs 15,000 crore in India’s marine and inland fisheries sector, according to an analysis by apex industry body ASSOCHAM.
“The poor post-harvest fish handling infrastructure in major maritime states in India leads to wastage of about 25 per cent of the total fisheries resources,” according to a sector-specific an analysis by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Besides, fish stocks in India’s territorial deep-sea waters also remain untapped owing to the dearth of suitable fishing vessels and also because traditional fishing communities are over-exploiting the coastal waters which is leading to fast depletion of maritime resources and shrinking the catch from the coastal zones.
The post-harvest losses are generally caused due to poor handling, processing of fish leading to quality deterioration arising out of biochemical and microbiological spoilage, inadequate packaging, marketing malpractices and lack of proper storage facilities.
“These losses result in potential income loss to fishermen community and all the stakeholders, traders, processors, involved in fishing related ancillary operations as the spoiled, physically damaged fish fetches 20-25 per cent lower price compared to the best quality catch,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the chamber’s analysis.
“Production of value-added fishery products should be encouraged to realize better returns for producers, besides there is also a need to develop top-notch harbor and storage facilities for development of marine products in the country,” said Mr Rawat. “Sustainable practices like eco-friendly fisheries management must be adopted in capture, cultivation, utilization and marketing of marine products and there is also a need to bring in regulations to keep a check on over-exploitation of fisheries resources.”
ASSOCHAM has suggested the government to modernize existing harbours and establish more cold storage facilities and factory vessels to aid the fish and marine industry which is worth over Rs 61,000 crore.
Besides, improved methods of fish handling and preservation facilities on-board fishing vessels must be provided through joint ventures for production and marketing of value-added fish products.
“Maximum care should be taken while catching, storing and handling of fish to avoid any damage to the catch as it would go a long way in improving the quality of India’s marine products,” said Mr Rawat. “The entire fishing community including the policy makers and other stakeholders need to find alternative sources to encourage more-sustainable practices in aquaculture otherwise it could lead to degradation of land and marine habitat.”

Chest infections: University of Edinburgh study reveals boys in India get preference over girls for medical treatment


More boys than girls taken to hospital with chest infections, study shows

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabad: Boys in India and South Asia who suffer from chest infections are more likely than girls to receive hospital care, according to a new global study.

Around 12 million children under the age of five are hospitalised with chest infections such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis worldwide each year, the study suggests.

Researchers discovered that boys were more likely to be hospitalised because of chest infections than girls, both because male children are slightly more susceptible to such illnesses and because families are more likely to ensure that boys receive health care.

While this gender disparity was visible across the developing world, it was most pronounced in South Asia. In some areas of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, up to four times as many boys under five receive hospital care for chest infections compared with girls. The data for India came from previous studies conducted from different areas across the country.

The study found that a substantial number of children under five who became critically ill from chest infections were not treated in hospitals. Around 38 per cent of severe cases did not reach hospitals.

Researchers also found that an estimated 265,000 children under five suffering from chest infections die in hospitals worldwide each year.

Almost all of these deaths - 99 per cent - take place in the developing world. About eight out of ten children who die from chest infections do so outside of hospital care.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who carried out the study based on 2010 data, say that the findings indicate the severity of the problem in developing nations.

Dr Harish Nair, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Population Health Sciences, who led the study, said: "Pneumonia has an enormous impact upon the lives of young children across the world. This study shows that much more could be done to reduce infection and save lives, such as by improving access to hospitals in the developing world, or by ensuring that both boys and girls receive similar health care."

The study - the first of its kind - is published in The Lancet and supported by the World Health Organization. Its results were produced by a large international consortium of 76 researchers from 39 institutions, in 24 countries.

Researchers from around the world produced the estimates by using hospital-based studies of chest infection rates and data on health-care seeking in developing countries.

The study builds on previous research, also published in the Lancet in 2010 and 2011, which found that around 34 million children develop human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-related pneumonia and 20 million children under five develop seasonal flu-related pneumonia each year.

Sequencing the genome of pigeon pea: Icrisat novel programme on chana dal helps fight hunger and poverty


First ‘orphan legume’ genome sequence to be translated to crop breeding to boost food, nutrition and income security of dryland poor
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: A comprehensive, three-year, US$2-million pigeonpea molecular breeding project was launched yesterday aimed at improving the food, nutrition and income security of millions of poor people in the drylands.

The project "Pigeonpea Improvement using Molecular Breeding" supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) India Mission, aims to assist pigeonpea breeders to develop improved cultivars more efficiently using genomic tools. It will be implemented by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquartered in Hyderabad, India, along with the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi; the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, Karnataka; Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Hyderabad; and other partners in India and Africa.

In the fight against poverty and hunger amid the threat of climate change, highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops are the best bets for smallholder farmers in marginal environments to survive and improve their livelihoods. Pigeonpea, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is a very important food legume for millions of poor in the semi-arid regions of the world. Known as the “poor people’s meat” because of its high protein content, it provides a well-balanced diet when accompanied with cereals.

"I am very pleased to announce here today this new partnership between the governments of India and the United States, and ICRISAT – a partnership that will take new studies in pigeonpea genomics to the next stage of scientific research. This collaboration will improve the agricultural productivity of pigeonpea, a main source of protein for more than a billion people in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean," said Ms Elizabeth Warfield, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, New Delhi during the project launch.

Dr William Dar, Director General, ICRISAT, acknowledged USAID’s commitment to the project. “USAID has always been an advocate of the agricultural research-for-development continuum. Thus, this project has a research component in Phase I and an application component in Phase II. This project is another testament to USAID’s commitment to improve the lot of resource-poor farmers particularly in the pigeonpea growing countries of the world."

“Under the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Grain Legumes led by ICRISAT along with other CGIAR Consortium members and program as well as national partners, genomics research will play a crucial role in speeding up the development of improved varieties for smallholder farmer crops such as pigeonpea,” Dr Dar added.

Dr Swapan Datta, Deputy Director General (Crop Science), ICAR acknowledged ICRISAT’s efforts in decoding the genome sequence of pigeonpea in 2011, and now that of chickpea in 2013. He said, "A scientific breakthrough like genome sequencing excites and motivates the scientific community to find grand solutions for grand challenges. We are very excited to see the launch of this USAID project.”

“The primary objective of the project is to translate genome information into the farmers’ fields. The project team is quite confident and looks forward to working with different partners and stakeholders in enhancing pigeonpea crop productivity that will eventually help ensure food security in India and generate more incomes for farmers in Africa", said Dr Rajeev Varshney, Project Coordinator and Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics,ICRISAT.

The project launch meeting held on 30 January at the ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru near Hyderabad brought together about 70 delegates from India, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi and private sectors.

Pigeonpea is an important crop for India’s food security, consumed in the form of dal in regular diets of majority of the country’s vegetarian population. India is the largest producer of pigeonpea in the world, largest consumer of pigeonpea and largest importer of pigeonpea. This opens great opportunities to further develop the industry in the country.

Meanwhile, sub-Saharan African countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda grow pigeonpea to export to India, making pigeonpea production critical in increasing incomes and improving the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers. As the crop is generally grown in marginal environments, crop productivity is heavily challenged by several biotic and abiotic stresses.

Although traditional breeding has generated some hybrids to enhance yield, there is an urgent need to deploy molecular breeding approaches for improving varieties and hybrids. Because of limited genetic diversity and non-availability of genomic tools, molecular breeding has not been used in pigeonpea breeding programs. With the decoding of the pigeonpea genome sequence by an ICRISAT-led global research team in November 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India (GoI) together with ICAR and ICRISAT started to develop a road map for pigeonpea improvement using molecular breeding. That road map has led to the implementation of this USAID India Mission sanctioned project.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Under-water launch missile B05: India joins the select club of nations with state-of-the art Defence technology


By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 27: The DRDO- developed under Water launched Missile B05 was successfully flight tested from Bay of Bengal off the coast of Visakhapatnam.

The Missile launched from a pontoon, was tested for the full range and met all the mission objectives. All the parameters of the vehicle were monitored by the Radar all through the trajectory and terminal events have taken place exactly as expected.
Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister Dr VK Saraswat congratulated all the scientists, gechnicians of DRDO on the successful flight test. Defence Minister AK Antony congratulated all the scientists for successful launch of B05.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Leading defence scientist Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat gets Padma Bhushan award

By Syed Akbar

Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat, one of the greatest scientists of India with more than four decades of experience in defence research. Apart from being a scientist, he is a rare combination of an innovator, technologist and visionary. Dr Saraswat has been credited with authority in indigenous development of variety class of Missiles like Ballistic Missiles, Cruise Missiles, Anti-Tank Missiles and is principal architect behind the first ever BMD development program in India by spearheading major technology breakthroughs in the areas of missile defence systems.

Born at Gwalior on 25 May 1949, Dr Saraswat completed his engineering education in Gwalior and then went to IISc Bangalore for Masters Degree in Engineering and Ph.D from Osmania University.

During the last 30 years, he actively supported the development of the engineering profession in India and stimulated public interest the potential value of self-reliance in Defence Research in a wide variety of engineering applications. His initiatives and drive have made India self reliant and placed the nation under the spotlight in the global arena.

He developed a highly successful 30 Tonne LP Engine for aerodefence applications. His contribution towards successful induction of indigeneously developed surface-to-surface missile PRITHVI Weapon system - PRIDE OF THE NATION and its variants like DHANUSH with extended range intro armed forces, made Govt of India to honour him with the prestigious national award of PADMASHRI in 1998. With the recent successes of long range missile AGNI-5 and AGNI variants, ASTRA, SHOURYA, PRAHAAR, NAG, AKASH, Dr Saraswat’s dream has come true that today, nation can boast of reaching any shores in the world with the nuclear capable missiles with different strike ranges demonstrating the self-reliance of our Nation.

His technological capabilities coupled with managerial excellence have led to realization of two new missiles Exo and Endo atmospheric interceptor systems along with other BMD elements viz Radars, Command, Control, Communication, Computers & Intelligence (C4I) systems and the integration of battle management resources in a record time. The successive interception of incoming target missiles at Exo and Endo atmospheres demonstrated during the last six years are a testimony to his dedicated untiring efforts and exploitation of limited technological resources. This success made India join the select nations that have the capability to develop BMD systems and the only nation that has achieved the Exo atmospheric intercept other than USA who has been spending billions of dollars on missile defence

Dr. VK Saraswat has built “Strategic Communication Network” bringing high degree of Redundancy, Robustness and Reliability through multiple layers covering command hierarchy. Under his leadership, missiles have been made available to Strategic Force Command as Vectors.

Development of new technologies which are critical under MTCR viz., Ring Laser Gyros, Fibre Optic Gyros, Electro-Hydraulic Servo Valves, Electro Mechanical Actuation System, MEMS Technology for Inertial Sensors have been realized with the rigorous efforts of Dr Saraswat. Vision of Dr Saraswat lead to initiate the programmes on Cyber Security, Directed Energy Weapons, future Materials, Space based surveillance & Security system, Nano Technologies, Low Intensity Conflict and NBC Products, Bio defence and Silicon Photonics development during the past two years.

Dr Saraswat set up the State-of the-Art facilities consisting of 100 Class Clean Rooms, Optical Processing Systems, Vacuum Units micro machining and precision manufacturing systems and high end assembly integration and testing equipments overcoming all odds of export controls including creation of an excellent industry base to support defence research. Dr Saraswat’s vision and efforts towards achieving technological self-reliance paved the way not only for development of technological systems but also generated employment opportunities and for economic development of the regions Presently, the Indian industry has graduated from the status of ‘component level’ fabricators to ‘system level’ manufacturing agencies for the defence sector.

Dr Saraswat was honored with numerous accolades during his entire career namely Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Award from Indian Science Congress (2011); Lifetime Achievement Award by Ramakrishna-Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi; Prof Jai Krishna Memorial Award by Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE); Dr Y Nayudamma Memorial Gold Medal for the year 2011 by AP Science Congress; Jawaharlal Nehru S&T Award (2009) by Govt of Madhya Pradesh; FICCI Annual Award; ARYABHATA Award (2011) from Astronautical Society of India; National Aeronautical Prize (1998); Dr Y Nayudamma Memorial Award

The Times Magazine of United States (17 Sep 2007) described Dr Saraswat as an Innovator working on New Technologies which include development of Propulsion System to accelerate to Mach 8 speed, SCRAMJET and AVATAR (Aerobic Vehicle for Advanced Trans Atmospheric Research) at low cost.

India Today (27 Dec 1999) described Dr VK Saraswat as Rocket Scientist and Missile Man II, after Dr APJ Abdul Kalam under the Title “Faces of the Millennium Sciences”

Dr Saraswat received many honorary degrees from many Indian universities and is a Fellow of numerous scientific societies, including Indian national Academy of Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India, Astronautical Society of India, Institution of Engineers, Systems Society of India, Society for Shock Wave Research and AP Akademi of Sciences; Life Member of Indian Science Congress Association and Instrumentation Society of India and Chairman of Combustion Institute (Indian Section). He has been elected as President of Aeronautical Society of India.

He was the Chief Controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic Systems) and Programme Director for Air Defence at DRDO from the year 1996-2009 before being appointed as Secretary Dept of Defence R&D, Scientific Adviser to Raksha Mantri and Director General to lead India's Defence Research & Development Organisation. In addition, Dr Saraswat is also the Chairman of Governing Council of Defence Institute of Aadvanced Technology, Pune and Motilal Nehru National Inst of Technology, Allahabad; Member of Advisory Council of BHEL R&D and Member of Scientific Advisory Committee to Cabinet under the chairmanship of Honble Prime Minister of India.

Under his leadership, DRDO has transformed from a technology importer to a pioneer in providing integrated technology and process solutions on weapon delivery platforms. The principle of striving for greater-self-reliance in technology while instilling team spirit has been his motto. Dr Saraswat laid the Technology Roadmap for development of future technologies.
During the last three years, Dr Saraswat’s innovative leadership achieved - induction of first nuclear powered submarine INS ARIHANT; induction of VARUNA EW System; induction ofDIVYADRISHTI (EW software) into Services; TEJAS (Light Combat Aircraft) have Initial Operational clearance and Naval version has been rolled out after its successful demonstration; NAG(Anti Tank Missile) complete User Trials; ASTRA (Air-to-Air Missile) complete aerodynamic configuration trials; Maiden flight test of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles RUSTOM;; Induction of MBTsand PINAKA launchers; and successful launch of PRAHAR. He has guided NAG (Anti-Tank Missile) complete User Trials; ASTRA (Air-to-Air Missile) complete aerodynamic configuration trials; Successful launch of Under water Missile SHAURYA; Development of guided Glide Bomb with extended range; development of System on Chip for missile and EW applications; demonstration of RUSTOM-I; Initiated development of Surveillance Systems, Cyber Security, Nano Technologies; Development of LIC & NBC Technologies to support Security & Paramilitary forces and Induction of DIVYADRISHTI (EW software) into Services. Production of first lot of Titanium Sponge; Supply of Oleoresin Grenades, Plastic Bullets, Mini UAV NETRA, Laser Dazzlers, ROV DAKSH, Explosive Detection Kits, Multi-mode Hand Grenades, and Combo Rations for Low Intensity Conflicts; Solar Powered Modular Green Shelters

Most recently Dr Saraswat while taking our defence capabilities to greater heights brought new dimension to the national defence scenario through successful test firing of AGNI-5 an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile which has become Game Changer. Maiden success of LRSAM developed under Joint Venture with Israel is another significant achievement under his leadership.

Dr Saraswat’s recent research initiatives have taken shape into establishment of Research & Innovation Centre- RIC at IIT Madras Research Park – to focus on innovation &Research in coordination with Academia and MILIT- dedicated to training on S&T needs of officers of MoD; CERT- DRDO with the aim of reporting, auditing and handling emergency response of Information Security Incidents; CHESS with the mandate of development of High Energy Laser and Microwave devices aimed at futuristic requirements and is envisaged to become a cutting edge technology development center; and finally establishment of Kyrgyz-Indian Mountain Bio-Medical Research Centre at Kyrgyzstan. In order to advance economic development opportunities, Accelerated Technology Assessment and Commercialization (ATAC) Programme in association with FICCI has been started with a motto to bring the DRDO developed products into market for civilian applications.

Bio-Digesters for Railways and Odisha Govt for rural development and Launch of AAHAR programmes have gained larger interests which are aimed at providing DRDO developed food products for the lowest strata of Society as part of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Guiding 8 PhD Students. He has number of papers at his credit published in various journals at national and international level.
Dr Saraswat made a unique contribution to the society, for upgradation of technology in select areas, in popularizing defence research, by giving a series of lectures on Critical technological areas to Scientific community, academia, researchers and Students and providing them an insight on various scientific theories and applications. The new international airport and Aerospace SEZ at Hyderabad are a testimony of his initiatives and able guidance through AeSI since 2002.

Dr Saraswat’s rigorous efforts as Chairman Combustion Institute, led to establishment of Advanced Combustion Research Centers at IISc and IIT(M). His initiatives on research in Fuel Cell Technologies have made good progress and soon will have technologies for commercial usage.
Degree of Doctor of Science was conferred upon him by more than 15 Universities including NIT Surat and Andhra University, Visakhapatnam in recognition of his outstanding contributions towards development of Science & Technology in Aerospace and Defence fields.

Missile scientist Avinash Chander gets Padma Sri for his outstanding contribution to Agni missiles

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabad: Mr Avinash Chander, distinguished scientist, Chief Controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic Systems) and Programme Director, Agni, is the main architect behind the success of Agni-5, 5000 km ICBM class of missile and gave the country a new dimension to its defence capability.


Dynamic leadership of Avinash Chander in the development of Agni-4 and Agni-5 in a short span of time with the state- of-the- art technologies has put the country in the elite class of Advanced Nations in the world.

As prime designer of Long Range Missile Systems in the country, successfully delivered three long-range weapon systems Agni-1, Agni-2 and Agni-3 to the Indian Armed Forces. His outstanding contributions enabled India with indigenous technologies in the critical areas under severe control regimes. He has created infrastructure for production of the systems motivating and encouraging industry participation with innovative management initiatives. He joined DRDO in 1972 after completing his graduation in electrical engineering from IIT Delhi. He obtained MS in spatial information technology from JNTU, Hyderabad. He is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineers, Fellow of System Society of India, Fellow of Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences, Fellow and Vice-President of Astronautical Society of India.

He has received numerous awards and honours in his career like DRDO Scientist of the year (1989), Astronautical Society of India Award (1997) in the field of Rocketry, AGNI Self-Reliance Award (1999), Dr. Biren Roy Space Science Award (2000), DRDO Award for Path Breaking Research / Outstanding Technology Development (2007), Outstanding Technologist Award (2008) by Punjab Technical University, DRDO Technology Leadership Award (2008) and Outstanding contribution towards National Development Award (2011) by IIT, Delhi.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A team of researchers from Visakhapatnam has developed a bio-fertilizer that will solve the problem of zinc deficiency in green gram, increase the yield and bring in profits to farmers

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 4: Green gram is a major ingredient in the Indian
kitchen, but this delicious pulse crop is hit by zinc deficiency
causing heavy loss to farmers. Now a team of researchers from
Visakhapatnam has developed a bio-fertilizer that will solve the
problem of zinc deficiency in green gram, increase the yield and bring
in profits to farmers.

Field trials conducted in Anakapalle town in Visakhapatnam district
have been successful with the bio-fertilizer solving the problem of
zinc deficiency in the green gram crop. Farmers spend huge amounts on
buying chemical fertilizers to overcome the problem of zinc deficiency
in green gram. Chemical fertilizers make the soil alkaline or saline,
robbing it of its ability to sustain future crops.

Dr L Anitha, associate professor, department of microbiology and food
science and technology, Gitam University, Visakhapatnam, told this
correspondent that the bio-fertilizer was developed from blue green
algae (Spirulina platensis). Dr Anitha and research scholar P Kalpana
developed the bio-fertilizer. According to Dr Anitha, they conducted
research to estimate zinc levels in green gram (Cicer arietinum) after
application of blue green algae by foliar spray on the plants from
germination for 45 days every fortnight.

Spirulina is rich in protein and trace metals. Spirulina was dried,
powdered, and applied to crops in four different concentrations. The
zinc levels were estimated using atomic absorption spectrophotometer.
The zinc concentration 36.83 mg per kg as against 29.45 mg/kg in
fields where the bio-fertilizer was not used.

“The foliar spray enhanced the zinc levels in green gram. The higher
the concentration of blue green algae the higher the zinc
concentration in the green gram crop,” she said.

Zinc plays a key role in the yield, quality and nutritional value of
agricultural crops. But use of zinc from chemical sources damages the
soil texture, though it increases the farm out. Zinc obtained through
natural sources like blue green algae not only keeps the soil texture
in good health, but also solves the problem of deficiency in crops.

The research study by the Vizag team gain significance, as 50 per cent
of the world’s agricultural crops are deficient in zinc.

Delhi Gang Rape Case: India has emerged as a torchbearer nation for global awakening on sexual violence against women, says Lancet

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 4: India has emerged as a torchbearer nation for global
awakening on sexual violence against women.

Leading science and medical research journal, Lancet, has published an
editorial, “Sexual violence: a global awakening, from India”, in its
latest issue. Though there is agreement that India has failed to
address a pervasive culture of sexual violence and gender injustice,
the Delhi incident has come as a global awakening.

Stating that the Delhi rape incident has “rightly caused outrage and
anguish across India”, the Lancet said, “Immediately after her death,
following treatment in a hospital in Singapore, Delhi was locked down
by police to prevent outbreaks of public protest. Despite these
measures, thousands of Indian citizens took part in peaceful vigils to
express their anger at the violence inflicted against this young
student, as well as the harassment experienced daily by thousands of
Indian women”.

The eminent medical journal noted that there is agreement that India
has failed to address a pervasive culture of sexual violence and
gender injustice. This political neglect has created a permissive
environment where men can rape, beat, and kill a woman with impunity.

“India is a respected democracy that has delivered phenomenal economic
success for its growing middle class. But the country’s inattention to
fundamental protections and liberties for its citizens reveals a
nation facing a moral turning point. Yet it would be a grievous error
to conclude that sexual violence is a predicament confined to India.
It is not. Rape and other forms of violence against women and girls
are a feature of all societies. In South Africa, for example, as many
as a third of men have taken part in acts of rape”.

It suggested that as a first step, sexual violence must be
acknowledged as a “reality by all of us, and its causes discussed”. We
must support the creation of safe systems for preventing, reporting,
and remedying acts of sexual violence.

As advocates for women’s health, health professionals have a special
role in defeating rape. “It is time we exercised our voice more
strongly. The greatest respect we can give to the memory of the Indian
student who died on Dec 29 is by protecting and strengthening the
political and social rights of women worldwide,” the Lancet editorial
said.

Power from road traffic movement: Indian villager has developed a prototype of power generator that produces electricity utilizing the vibrations caused by vehicles on busy road junctions.

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 5: An intermediate dropout from a remote village in
Guntur district has developed a prototype of power generator that
produces electricity utilizing the vibrations caused by vehicles on
busy road junctions. It converts the mechanical energy created by the
road traffic into electrical energy, which can be added to the power
grid or stored in battery.

The prototype generator developed by Damalapati Venkata Krishna of
Ganapavaram village in Rajulapalem mandal of Guntur district will be
displayed at the Renewable Energy World Asia (REWA) conference in
Bangkok, Thailand in the first week of October this year.

The 100th session of the Indian Science Congress currently underway in
Kolkata had accepted the paper of Venkata Krishna for a poster
presentation. But when he went to Kolkata to make the presentation, he
was denied permission on the grounds that he is not a graduate,
Venkata Krishna told this correspondent.

“Prof AK Rao, sectional president, physical sciences, Indian Science
Congress Association, 2013, sent the acceptance letter. He also
directed me to two of the organisers of the science congress for
accommodation in Kolkata. But to my surprise they told me that since I
am not a graduate, I am not eligible for the presentation,” Venkata
Krishna pointed out.

Dr Gollapalli Nageswara Rao of Andhra University said generation of
electricity from road traffic movement is feasible. “Venkata Krishna
had made a prototype generator of road traffic energy. Many scientists
the world over are involved in research on similar projects to
generate green electricity from vehicular movement on busy roads. We
have to see if the prototype is commercial feasible for mass
production,” Dr Nageswara Rao observed.

Venkat Krishna’s prototype generator has two components, a pressure
plate and a power- producing device. The pressure plate is put
underneath the road and is connected to the power-producing device.
Whenever a vehicle passes through the plate, the pressure generated
from vibrations and weight is passed on to the device, which converts
this mechanical energy into electrical energy.

“It will be useful in heavy traffic roads in cities and national
highways. To begin with, the power generated can be utilised to supply
electricity to traffic signals or streetlights. It works better, when
the density of traffic is high. Since the power can be stored in
battery, it will supply continuous power to traffic signals even
during non-peak hours,” Venkat Krishna said.

Earlier, he developed a device called Kishan Rakshak, which
automatically throws a covering shield over chilli crop kept for sun
drying, whenever it rains.

Halal Food: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India proposes that Halal label claims should be backed by religious certification

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 6: With the annual global Halal food market pegged at
Rs 33,00,000 crore, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
(FSSAI) has now proposed that manufacturers, who want to label their
products as “Halal”, should invariably get the necessary certification
from an authorized religious agency.

The new draft rules framed by the FSSAI on food labeling claims has
set a separate section in the proposed legislation that claims related
to religious or ritual practices like Halal or Jhatka can be made
provided that the food conforms to the requirements of the appropriate
religious or ritual authorities. It should also be certified by
authorized agencies concerned.

Halal certification is gaining popularity worldwide and many
manufacturers in India label their product “Halal”. But many times
such claims are not backed by certification leaving scope for misuse
of the claim. The FSSAI now calls upon manufacturers to back their
claims with authorized certification.

Section 12 of the draft bill on food labeling claims states, “The Food
Authority may at any time ask a manufacturer and/or brand owner of any
food on which claims are being made to substantiate the claim…”

India has about a dozen major Halal certification agencies. The Jamiat
Ulema-e-Hind Halal Trust certifies Halal foods all over the country
including Hyderabad. According to the Jamiat, Halal certification is
recognition that the products are permissible under Islamic law.
“These products are thus edible, drinkable or usable by Muslims. Halal
certification from an established Islamic organization helps to build
Halal consumer's confidence without suspicion or doubt over the
consumption of the food products.”

Halal certification is an authoritative and reliable testimony to
support food manufacturers' claim that their products have met strict
Halal requirement by the Shariah Law, the Jamiat adds.

Perils of urbanisation: Hyderabad is faced with the threat of degradation of groundwater beyond recoverable level in future, warn Indian researchers from German University - RWTH Aachen University

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 7: Hyderabad is faced with the threat of degradation of
groundwater beyond recoverable level in future, warn Indian
researchers from a German University.

A team of four researchers from the department of engineering geology
and hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen University, Germany, has taken up
studies on the scarcity of water resources mega cities in India would
face in the coming years. Hyderabad is one of the cities selected for
research thanks to its rapid urbanization and consequent heavy burden
on water resources.

“Considering the limited potential of hard rock aquifers, reduced
recharge and that the resource is being tapped from deeper depths,
there is possibility of degradation of groundwater beyond recoverable
level in future due to rapid urbanization in Hyderabad,” warns
researcher Hemant Wakode.

“Although groundwater is not easily contaminated, once this occurs it
is difficult to remediate, and in the developing country like India,
such remediation may prove practically impossible,” he points out in
the university’s blog, “Water and Megacities”.

Hemant has analysed a number of satellite imageries of twin cities and
neighbouring areas to find out the changes in surface as well as
ground water resources during this urbanization process to forecast
the future trend of these changes and effects on environment by using
numerical model.

The emerging scarcity of water has also raised a host of issues
related to sustainability of present kind of economic development,
sufficient water supply, equity and social justice, water financing,
pricing, governance and management, he said. The per capita
consumption of water in twin cities is 96.2 litres per day as against
200 litres recommended by the World Health Organisation.

About 11 per cent of the households in Hyderabad are already dependent
on tanker water supply. Out of this, 46 per cent are dependent on
private tankers. The results of satellite and GIS data show that
considerable decrease in the area of water during the last 20 years
due to non-implementation of the environmental laws and haphazard
planning and growth of the city.

Groundwater is under threat of degradation both by contamination and
by inappropriate use. It is observed that in general the depth to
water levels ranged between 5 and 20 metres but on an average it is
around 12 m. The general depth to water level during pre-monsoon
period varies from 5 m to 20 m bgl (below ground level), whereas
during post monsoon periods, it varies from 2 m to 15 m bgl.

He points out that the water table is depleted over the years at many
places like Bowenpally, Aghapura, Erragadda, Basheerbagh, Langar Houz,
Jubilee Hills, Begumpet, Koti, West Marredpally, Gudimalkapur,
Musheerabad, Sanathnagar, Picket and Madhapur. However, there is a
substantial rise of ground water levels in most of the localities of
Hyderabad due to the high precipitation received after 2008.

Delhi Gang Rape Case: Asaram Bapu invites the wrath of people, social media

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 7: Godman Asaram Bapu on Monday invited the wrath of
netizens for his comments that the Delhi gang rape victim should have
addressed her assaulters as brothers and begged them to let her go.

Asaram Bapu trended top on microblogging site, Twitter, with netizens
criticizing him in the strongest terms. Raj Thackeray and Akbaruddin
Owaisi too trended on twitter, the former for his bad comments against
Biharis and the latter for his hate speak. #Owaisimovies too trended
with some members suggesting names for the imaginary movie the MIM
leader would act in.

“The only way to teach Asaram Bapu a lesson is by putting him on a bus
carrying Mayawati and Jayalalithaa: Watch how they beat him up! And
that bus will be driven by Mamata and Renuka C will be the conductor!
Asaram Bapu will then know what some women will do to Bhaiyas!,” said
Suhel Seth.

Chetan Bhagat tweeted, “according to Asaram Bapu logic, there can be
no underworld crimes in Mumbai. After all, here everybody calls them
bhai.” In another tweet, he said, “Inspired by Asaram Bapu: Dear
critics, please, please spare me. You are like my brother.”

“Blood curdling. Should all of us leave India??” wondered Sucheta
Dalal, while Pranav Sapra wrote, “Mom: Asaram Bapu is right, women can
carry Rakhis in their handbags for defending themselves.”

Here are some tweets:

Bilal Nazki ‏tweeted, “Asaram kis kis ko hum condemn kartay rahainge”.

Taslima Nasreen ‏wrote “Misogynist spiritual gurus brainwash their
disciples to become more ignorant and more stupid”.

Gabbar Singh: “Dear Asaram bapu, This "Bhaiyya" trick doesn't even
work with Auto-walas. "Bhaiyya, Juhu chaloge?" "No"

Barkha Dutt: Will the followers of Asaram Bapu continue to defend his
gross, tasteless sexism? What does it say about them?

Joy: Honey Singh must be happy! Thanx to Mohan Bhagwat, Asaram Bapu
etc people have forgot him

Vinay Biradar: Apparently Bhaiya is the problem for Raj Thackeray and
the solution for Asaram Bapu. One word. Many meanings.

Nandita Iyer: How adorable is the innocence of Asaram Bapu - he thinks
calling the rapist 'brother' will stop rape in its tracks. *slow claps*

Kris Sreekanth: Raj Thackeray says 'Bhaiyyas' are the problem. Asaram
Bapu says calling 'Bhaiyya' is the solution. All the morons pls form a
united front.

Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma Commission: Nalsar University suggests that "medical rape" be criminalised

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 8: NALSAR University of Law has recommended against
imposition of death penalty for the crime of rape and emphasized on
‘real consent’ of victim in determining rape.

NALSAR submitted a paper to Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma Commission,
(with two members Mrs Leila Seth and Mr Gopal Subrahmanian),
constituted after recent Delhi gang rape incident, to suggest changes
in laws to provide better security to women.

The University of Law pleaded for legal reforms besides some community
oriented changes such as making safe public spaces available for women
with freedom of dress and neighbourhood policing. The paper opposed
blaming victims for rape.

According to Prof Madabhushi Sridhar of NALSAR, the paper from the
university reminded the need for immediate health care response
systems, especially trauma care for the victim, which should be
independent of the investigative and judicial process, yet be mandated
by law as a non-negotiable.

It suggested expansion of definition of rape, from present limited
scope of peno-vaginal penetration of a female by a male, to include
penetration by any body part or object of a person of any sex. NALSAR
recognized a need to extend ‘sexual assault’ to other sexualized forms
of violence such as molestation. It laid stress on the need to
consider whether there real consent of victim.

Strongly recommending criminalization of ‘marital rape’, the NALSAR
paper said that the marriage should not mean all time consent to
husband for sexual intercourse.
The Law University has also sought criminalization of medical rape,
which is permitted by legal exceptions facilitating the infamous
‘two-finger’ test in medical investigation. Relying on such a test was
criticized as another rape of the victim.

The Juvenile Justice Act 2000 is the result of deep research and study
of jurisprudence and experience of various countries. The Act follows
universal standards of juvenile justice and NALSAR did not recommend
that this legislation be changed to reduce the age of juvenile from 18
to 16, because a 17-year young person was involved in ghastly gang rape.

He said the NALSAR supported introduction of new provisions in law
dealing with aggravated forms of rape, perpetuating power structures
and hierarchies including caste, class and religious dominance. NALSAR
recommended punishing rape committed by person who is known to victim
with rigorous punishment of not less than 10 years.

It has recommended speedy adoption of the sexual harassment at
workplace bill and also punishing refusal to register a crime as
dereliction of the duty as an independent offence introducing command
responsibility.

Another significant suggestion was about safe walk and safe rides as
service that can be effective in university campuses. Law enforcement
along with the university should set up a system wherein students can
phone a hotline seeking dispatch walking buddies to accompany that
student from a place to destination.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Young achievers: Dr Sharmistha Banerjee - decoding the molecular mystery of HIV and TB coinfection

Dr Sharmistha Banerjee, scientist, University of Hyderabad

By Syed Akbar

Tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are dreaded diseases individually.
And when they join hands and infect a person, they become even more dangerous.
Understanding the co-infection of HIV and TB will help doctors to know the disease
mechanism better. Dr Sharmistha Banerjee achieved a significant progress in unravelling
the mystery of HIV-TB co-infection at the molecular level.

Dr Sharmistha Banerjee, who is attached to the biochemistry laboratory of the University
of Hyderabad, received the Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award from the Department of
Biotechnology for her contribution that provides scientific insights into the TB and HIV
germs when they infect a person at the same time. Sharmistha, 39, hails from West Bengal
but had her higher education in Hyderabad.

Co-infection of HIV and tuberculosis are quite common in India and thousands of people
suffer from the twin problem.

“The award has motivated me to take up challenging research and find out the hidden
scientific secrets,” says young Dr Sharmistha.

Dr Sharmistha received her PhD in biochemistry from University of Hyderabad. She worked
at Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad, and later continued
her postdoctoral studies at the Laboratory of Transcriptional Biology.

Young achievers: Dr Rajeev Trehan - three complicated surgeries in one go

Dr Rajeev Trehan, cardio-thoracic surgeon

By Syed Akbar

This young heart surgeon created a record of sorts when he performed a complex surgery
involving three procedures in one go – coronary artery bypass graft, mitral valve
replacement and left ventricle reconstruction. It was a challenging task as the patient
is 65 year old.

Dr Rajeev Trehan, who made Hyderabad his second home in 2007, did not take chances when
the patient was admitted to Apollo DRDO Hospital, Hyderabad, in August with severe
breathlessness and sweating. The patient could neither lie down on bed nor walk due to
heart failure.

Thirty-nine year old Dr Trehan treated the patient for all three lesions of the heart.
For the patient to recover, all this had to be done in one go, which was extremely risky.
“It was a big challenge. I did not do such a complex surgery before, but I went ahead
with the procedure to save the patient,” he recalls. Trehan conducted double surgical
procedures – bypass surgery and left ventricular repair – five times earlier.

“Many doctors do not risk taking complex cases fearing high mortality rate. Life and
death are in the hands of the Almighty. As a doctor I do my best to save critically ill
patients,” he points out.

Young achievers: RCI scientist G Satheesh Reddy guides missiles to their target


G Satheesh Reddy, the Agni guide


By Syed Akbar

Internationally acclaimed defence scientist G Satheesh Reddy can be described as the 
“Agni guide” as he plays an important role in guiding the Agni series of ballistic 
missiles, which gave India a major defence edge in the region.

Satheesh joined the DRDO as scientist B in Hyderabad in 1986. He rose rank by rank during 
the last 26 years through his. At 48, today he is the youngest outstanding scientist in 
the Defence sector in India.

He heads the inertial systems in the DRDO’s RCI in the city. His lab is responsible for 
the accuracy of the missile systems. In short, he guides India’s missiles to their 
targets.

Satheesh received a number of awards this year including the Institution of Electronics 
and Telecommunication Engineers’ award for planning, design, development, production and 
timely delivery of critical avionics systems and diversified navigation technologies for 
land, air, sea and space applications. He developed diversified core navigation 
technologies. Satheesh, who is also the associate director of RCI in Hyderabad, added 
another feather in his cap by winning the `Vikram Award’ of the Systems Society of India 
(SSI).

He is the guiding force behind all the series of the Agni missiles including the 
intercontinental ballistic missile, Agni 5. He also proved his prowess in the interceptor 
technology, giving India its Defence Shield.

Young achiever: DRDO scientist Muthukrishnan Kannan

Muthukrishnan Kannan, defence scientist


By Syed Akbar

Muthukrishnan Kannan, 38, bagged the prestigious `Swarna Jayanthi Award’ from the
Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI) for the year 2012.

Kannan, who has been working for the Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad since 1997
has made outstanding contribution for development of components used in missiles,
aircraft and submarines.

He led the team for indigenous navigation systems (INS) for naval ships. He also headed
the navigational team for the cruise missile, BrahMos, a stealth supersonic cruise
missile. BrahMos can be launched from all the “three fields” – air (aircraft), sea
(submarines) and land. Incidentally, BrahMos is the fastest cruise missile in operation
today. The last 15 years have made Kannan a true Hyderabadi. He also speaks fluent Telugu.

Kannan bagged the ‘Swarna Jayanti Award’ for his outstanding contributions towards the
design, development, production and delivery of critical components for strategic and
tactical defence applications
He is also associated with several important projects that include Agni-3 ballistic
missile, Tejas, a lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft, and Shaurya, a hypersonic
surface-to-surface tactical missile. Kannan made valuable contribution for air defence
(AD) missile too.

Young achievers: Brajnish Sitara, navigational engineer at Research Centre Imarat, Hyderabad


Brajnish Sitara, navigational engineer

By Syed Akbar

India made an impressive achievement on the missiles front during 2012, successfully
firing a series of missiles. For any missile to complete its course and hit the given
target, it should be `guided’ properly. Brajnish Sitara, 31, a navigational engineer with
the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), made significant contribution
in guiding the missiles to destroy the targets.

A member of the navigation team, Brajnish has mastered the art of navigational sciences
and aerospace engineering at quite a young age. An engineering graduate from the National
Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur, Brajnish made Hyderabad his second home city. He has
been associated with DRDO, Hyderabad, for the past nine years.

This year Brajnish was awarded the ‘Young Engineer Award’ by the Indian National Academy
of Engineering (INAE) for his outstanding contributions towards development of new
alignment and navigation algorithms and schemes. They have a high accuracy rate. His
contribution has helped in advanced navigational facilities for ships, aircraft and
strategic applications.

Brajnish is also responsible for development of advanced inertial sensor models and aided
navigation techniques for a number of defence projects, besides missiles.

It’s a weighty issue for women in Hyderabad. One in two women in twin cities is overweight. Interestingly, the “burden” of heavy weight is not limited to just posh and middle class localities of Hyderabad. Women in slums, which otherwise are the best examples of under-nutrition due to socioeconomic reasons, are also overweight, indicating a pan-Hyderabad excess weight problem

Hyderabadi women are overweight

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabad: It’s a weighty issue for women in Hyderabad. One in two women in twin cities
is overweight. Interestingly, the “burden” of heavy weight is not limited to just posh
and middle class localities of Hyderabad. Women in slums, which otherwise are the best
examples of under-nutrition due to socioeconomic reasons, are also overweight, indicating
a pan-Hyderabad excess weight problem.

The first-ever major scientific study on nutrition and weight in women living in eight
mega cities including Hyderabad came out with several interesting facts like women, who
consume eggs on daily basis, stay slim while those eating fish put on weight.

The study was conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai,
the University of Allahabad, and the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Besides
Hyderabad, the cities covered under the study are Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai,
Indore, Meerut and Nagpur.

The team of researchers comprising Kirti Gaur, Kunal Keshri and William Joe based their
scientific calculations on the data obtained from the latest National Family Health
Survey. “One in every two women in mega-cities is malnourished (either undernourished or
over-nourished),” they pointed out.

The study revealed that Chennai and Hyderabad have a high prevalence of overweight women
across both posh (non-slum) and slum areas. The place residence has no
significant impact on women’s nutritional status. If the body mass index (BMI) is taken
into account 49 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 years in Hyderabad and other
mega cities are underweight or overweight.

“The prevalence of overweight is relatively higher among women (24 per cent) than among
men (16 per cent),” the researchers said. This in other words means, more men are slim
than women in twin cities. Moreover, Hyderabad has a higher proportion of overweight
women than underweight.

But when women of Hyderabad are compared with their counterparts in Chennai, they are
slimmer. But women in Delhi are better weight-managed than those living in Hyderabad. The
study was published in the latest issue of the prestigious journal, Social Science and
Medicine (Elsevier).

Dr Kirti said in Chennai and Hyderabad, the dual burden among women population is as high
as 55 per cent. “It is worrisome to note that 41 per cent of the study sample from
Chennai and over 34 per cent of women from Hyderabad is overweight in non-slum areas,”
she pointed out.

Better education has not come as a boon with regard to maintenance of good body weight.
The researchers found that overweight outcomes are significantly associated with
education and are higher among women with better educational achievements. A little over
one-third of women in posh localities with higher educational background are overweight.

Regular intake of eggs is not associated with overweight. Women, who consume fish, are
more likely to be overweight. “Although fish makes for a healthy meal, perhaps a strong
preference for fried fish can make it a fat-rich intake,” they pointed out.

Until recently, obesity was largely associated with better-off urban households. Now the
problem of overweight is a rapidly expanding phenomenon across city slums, the
researchers warned.
Hyderabad: It’s a weighty issue for women in Hyderabad. One in two women in twin cities
is overweight. Interestingly, the “burden” of heavy weight is not limited to just posh
and middle class localities of Hyderabad. Women in slums, which otherwise are the best
examples of under-nutrition due to socioeconomic reasons, are also overweight, indicating
a pan-Hyderabad excess weight problem.

The first-ever major scientific study on nutrition and weight in women living in eight
mega cities including Hyderabad came out with several interesting facts like women, who
consume eggs on daily basis, stay slim while those eating fish put on weight.

The study was conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai,
the University of Allahabad, and the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Besides
Hyderabad, the cities covered under the study are Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai,
Indore, Meerut and Nagpur.

The team of researchers comprising Kirti Gaur, Kunal Keshri and William Joe based their
scientific calculations on the data obtained from the latest National Family Health
Survey. “One in every two women in mega-cities is malnourished (either undernourished or
over-nourished),” they pointed out.

The study revealed that Chennai and Hyderabad have a high prevalence of overweight women
across both posh (non-slum) and slum areas. The place residence has no
significant impact on women’s nutritional status. If the body mass index (BMI) is taken
into account 49 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 years in Hyderabad and other
mega cities are underweight or overweight.

“The prevalence of overweight is relatively higher among women (24 per cent) than among
men (16 per cent),” the researchers said. This in other words means, more men are slim
than women in twin cities. Moreover, Hyderabad has a higher proportion of overweight
women than underweight.

But when women of Hyderabad are compared with their counterparts in Chennai, they are
slimmer. But women in Delhi are better weight-managed than those living in Hyderabad. The
study was published in the latest issue of the prestigious journal, Social Science and
Medicine (Elsevier).

Dr Kirti said in Chennai and Hyderabad, the dual burden among women population is as high
as 55 per cent. “It is worrisome to note that 41 per cent of the study sample from
Chennai and over 34 per cent of women from Hyderabad is overweight in non-slum areas,”
she pointed out.

Better education has not come as a boon with regard to maintenance of good body weight.
The researchers found that overweight outcomes are significantly associated with
education and are higher among women with better educational achievements. A little over
one-third of women in posh localities with higher educational background are overweight.

Regular intake of eggs is not associated with overweight. Women, who consume fish, are
more likely to be overweight. “Although fish makes for a healthy meal, perhaps a strong
preference for fried fish can make it a fat-rich intake,” they pointed out.

Until recently, obesity was largely associated with better-off urban households. Now the
problem of overweight is a rapidly expanding phenomenon across city slums, the
researchers warned.

Good use of cashew apples: Everyone loves crunchy cashew nuts but when it comes to eating the highly nutritious cashew apple, not many would prefer it. Apart from its astringent taste, the cashew apple is highly perishable and thus it ends up in the garbage bins before reaching the market. And now scientists develop technology to preserve cashew apple juice

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Everyone loves crunchy cashew nuts but when it
comes to eating the highly nutritious cashew apple, not many would
prefer it. Apart from its astringent taste, the cashew apple is highly
perishable and thus it ends up in the garbage bins before reaching the
market.

But now a team of researchers from the coastal city of Visakhapatnam,
known for its delicious cashew orchards, has developed technology to
convert cashew apples into highly tasty, perservable and nutritious
juice. This will save thousands of kgs of cashew apples from going
into the garbage bins and help people to derive health benefits from
it. The juice can be preserved for longer periods and used as a
natural health drink

Andhra Pradesh is one of the major cashew-producing States in India
with 1.65 lakh hectares under cultivation in Guntur, Krishna, East and
West Godavari, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Nellore and Prakasam
districts. About 65 tonnes of cashew is produced in the country with
Andhra Pradesh contributing about 10 tonnes. Visakhapatnam district
alone produces about three tonnes of cashew.

“Cashew apples are highly nutritious, possess therapeutic and
medicinal properties. These are considered as a good source of
reducing sugars, vitamins mainly vitamin C (contains six times higher
than that of orange), minerals, amino acids, carotenoids, phenolics,
organic acids and anti-oxidants.  Traditionally, these fruits are used
to cure a number of chronic diseases like scurvy, diarrhoea, uterine
complaints, dropsy, cholera, rheumatism, and sore throat infections,”
said research scholar Ms Uma Talasila. She developed the technology
under the supervision of Dr Shaik Khasim Beebi, associate professor,
department of biotechnology, Gitam University, Visakhapatnam. The
research was funded by the Department of Science and Technology under
fellowship scheme for women scientists.

They said apart from its nutritional and medicinal value, the juice
could also be utilised as fermentation medium for the production of
value added products like as ethanol, single cell protein and
hyaluronic acid, which has an important function in the body.

“Unfortunately, cashew apples are considered as an agricultural waste
and by-product of cashew nut production. About 90 per cent of cashew
apples are disposed of at harvest due to high perishability,
astringency, short shelf life and lack of proper preservation
techniques,” they said adding that their technology helps in
clarification of the juice to make it palatable and perservable. It
will reduce the load of microbes and increases the shelf life.

Improved shelf life of cashew apple juice makes it feasible for the
year-round availability. Preservation of cashew apple juice increases
utilisation of these nutritious fruits, which are otherwise discarded
in the fields. “This will also generate employment among rural
communities and is expected to derive benefits during off-season,”
they pointed out.

Carbon credits: Illiterate tribals in Andhra Pradesh sell carbon credits to developed nations

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Illiterate tribals of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram
and Srikakulam districts have something major to celebrate on the eve
of the New Year. They have generated about 80,000 carbon credits
through afforestation on barren lands. Developed nations like Canada,
Spain and Luxemburg have now lined up to buy these carbon credits from
the tribal-farmers, paying each of them Rs 2500.

For the first time in India, tribal-farmers got money for carbon
credits directly from the World Bank. The carbon credit cheques were 
distributed in Visakhapatnam on December 26. Poor tribals from
Rayagada, Koraput, and Kalahandi districts of neighbouring Orissa are
also the beneficiaries of the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund.

About 1500 tribals had turned barren and wastelands including hilly
tracts spread over 1600 hectares into lush green social forests by
growing teak, Pongamia, mango, cashew, neem and Casuarina trees. The
green cover has resulted in the generation of 79,811 carbon credits.
This in other words means they have nullified the ill climatic effect
of 79,811 tonnes of carbondioxide or other green house gases released
into the atmosphere through human activity.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
mandates that developed nations should purchase carbon credits. One
carbon credit equals to permit to release one tonne of carbondioxide.
Armed with the purchase of carbon credits generated by the tribals of
Andhra Pradesh, the governments of Canada, Spain and Luxemburg have
secured the legal right to emit green house gases to the extent of
credits they had bought.

Sai Kishore Nellore, executive director, Veda Climate Change Solutions
Limited, which mobilised the tribals for the massive afforestation
programme, told this correspondent that they had entered into
partnership with the BioCarbon Fund of the World Bank and a local
industry, JK Paper Mills, Rayagada, to generate carbon credits and
trade them with the developed nations. The Centre for Integrated Rural
Development of Gitam University, Visakhapatnam extended the technical
support.

“We have created a unique institutional mechanism whereby small and
marginal farmers would be able to participate in the international
carbon markets under the UNFCCC. We have realised the carbon revenue
and will distribute them to the beneficiaries. This is for the first
time that the World Bank is giving away cheques directly to people
under Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement,” Sai Kishore said.
Canada, Spain and Luxemburg will in turn fund the World Bank for the
credits purchased.

The tribal-farmers have brought degraded lands to life, helping to
control soil and water erosion, besides producing raw material for
housing, construction, and industry. The reforestation activities have
also generating high-quality greenhouse gas emissions removals that
can be measured, monitored, and verified. A World Bank team inspected
the green cover before finalising the payments.

Incidentally, this is also the first project in Asia to release the
revenue to farmers as part of the Clean Development Mechanism of the
UNFCCC in the afforestation/reforestation large-scale sector. “The
tribal-farmers have addressed the most challenging issue of our times
namely climate change mitigation, while improving their personal
living standards,” he added.

Antibiotics and turmeric together a bad idea: Turmeric has been an integral part of Indian kitchen for ages, but now researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) suggest that people on antibiotics medication should avoid turmeric for fast recovery

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Turmeric has been an integral part of Indian
kitchen for ages, but now researchers from the Indian Institute of
Science (IISc) suggest that people on antibiotics medication should
avoid turmeric for fast recovery.

A study conducted by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and
Biosafety Laboratories, IISc, Bengaluru, reveals that curcumin, an
active chemical substance found in turmeric, interferes with the
efficacy of antibiotics like ciprofloxacin. Thus, antibiotics lose
their ability to fight against harmful bacteria. The IISc team tested
ciprofloxacin against typhoid bacteria in the presence of curcumin.

Turmeric has gained importance in treating various diseases, as a food
additive, and as a preservative. Many people consume turmeric tablets
as a daily dietary supplement. Some consume them to derive benefit
from the curative properties of curcumin. Moreover, haldi is added in
many Indian dishes including the delicious pulihora. Though turmeric
is good for health, it should not be taken while one is on antibiotics
regimen.

Typhoid fever is ever on rise across the globe and this disease burden
is a serious cause of economic loss, mortality and morbidity in a
developing country like India. Ciprofloxacin is the first line drug to
treat typhoid.

The IISc team demonstrated that curcumin inhibited the action of
ciprofloxacin by not preventing the ciprofloxacin-induced cleavage of
DNA. The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of
Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Curcumin is a major dietary molecule among Indians and on an average,
a person takes 0.03 to 0.12 grams per day. As curcumin interferes with
the action of ciprofloxacin, the typhoid bacterial population
increases. The patient will take a longer time for recovery from
typhoid.

Typhoid is caused by Salmonella species. “The successful treatment of
typhoid patients is a challenge, especially in immuno-compromised
individuals. The emergence of multidrug-resistant strains further
calls for alternative drugs against typhoid,” the study noted adding
emphasing the effect of diet on the outcome of typhoid disease and its
treatment.

Termite mounds and presence of metals: The search for uranium and other elements may soon concentrate around anthills. Researchers from the department of geology, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, have found that anthills or termite mounds are natural indicators of the presence of uranium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, chromium, and barium among other minerals

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The search for uranium and other elements may soon
concentrate around anthills. Researchers from the department of
geology, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, have found that
anthills or termite mounds are natural indicators of the presence of
uranium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, chromium, and barium among other
minerals.

The SVU team analysed termite mounds in Tummalapalle village in Kadapa
district, which is famous for its vast uranium resources. It noticed
that uranium concentration ranged from 10 to 36 ppm in the termite
mounds. The concentration of the radioactive element was less in the
soils where there are no anthills.

Tummalapalle is dotted by a number of termite mounds and this has
attracted the SVU researchers to analyse if they had anything to do
with the uranium mineralisation in the region. Their systematic
research revealed the presence of several other minerals. The
researcher based their analysis on a biogeochemical parameter called
“biological absorption coefficient” which showed that termite affected
soils contained huge amounts of chemical elements than the adjacent
soils.

This is the first time that a study has been conducted on
termite-mediated process to find minerals in India. The team comprised
Dr Arveti Nagaraju, S Reginald, K Sunil Kumar, V Harinath and Y
Sreedhar.

Termites dig the soil making burrows and in the process transport
upward buried components of the regolith (loose layer of soil around a
hard rock). Thus, a study of the soil samples from the termite mound
serves as an indicator of the nature of minerals present in the
vicinity. Termites also sample the sub-surface geological formations
for their construction material and mix large quantities of soil from
different horizons during mound building.

The concentration of various elements in termite soils and its
adjacent surface soils show that the elements like copper, lead, zinc,
nickel, cobalt, chromium, lithium, rubidium, strontium, barium and
uranium have been concentrated in more amounts in termite soils than
in the adjacent surface soils. The concentration of uranium ranged up
to 36 ppm in the termite mounds studied and there is no enrichment of
uranium in its adjacent surface soils.

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